Clothing Manufacturers: What are the Different Types

The world of clothing manufacturing is full of a lot of acronyms. If you are a new brand looking to get acquainted with the supply chain, we can help break the different types of clothing manufacturers down to get you started.

Clothing manufacturers offer a variety of services dealing with turning raw materials like fabric into garments of clothing with accurate styling and sizing. The process of producing a piece of clothing is much more complex than you might think.

Overview of the Production Cycle

When a clothing manufacturer receives an order, they consult their production team to check capacity and provide estimated ship dates based on their current production volume. This includes checking the availability of materials like fabrics, threads, and notions

If the project moves forward, the manufacturer will order fabrics and other components and work up some samples. Those samples are then sent to the client for approval and final confirmation on expected delivery dates. Once the buyer gives the green light on all of the details, production can begin.

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The manufacturing plant is just beginning its work at this point with staggered quality checks and production volume management. Once a certain percentage of the product has been completed, the manufacturer will begin working on logistics to ship the finished product to the buyer. 

Once the manufacturing is complete and the product has been shipped, the buyer will pay for the goods outlined in the original agreement. If the goods are being exported from one country and imported to another, there may be lengthy delays in customs clearance and ocean freight transit times before the product is received.

CMT Production (Cut, Make, Trim)

Cut, Make, Trim production (CMT) is one of the two primary types of clothing production. It is best suited for established brands that already have functional patterns and sourced materials. In this type of production, the manufacturer uses tech packs which include spec sheets and patterns. 

This type of manufacturing often results in high-quality production because the plant responsible for making the garments is solely focused on putting the materials together. Since they don’t have to spend time creating patterns, they have more time to focus on quality production.


commercial sewing machine


Full Production Package (FPP)

For newer brands and those who want a manufacturer to take the reins on the entire process, FPP manufacturing may be a better fit. With a full production package arrangement, the clothing manufacturer will spend time sourcing patterns and materials rather than having a buyer's tech package. In this arrangement, the factory is involved in every step of the process. 

The manufacturer will make sketches and mood boards from the buyer and pair them with patterns and materials using their fashion-industry expertise. FPP manufacturing is a good choice for many brands, but the upfront cost is higher than the additional services they provide. 

Get rid of the hassle of holding inventory and working with overseas manufacturers. Pond Threads is an on-demand clothing manufacturer that can print and produce your designs with convenient drop-ship fulfillment. Contact us today to get started.

Related: How Does Clothing Distribution Work?

Tips for Finding a Clothing Manufacturer

It is hard for new brands to break into the fashion world, and that includes finding reputable manufacturers who are willing to work with lower minimum order quantities. Clothing retail is dominated by major brands that have global capacities and deep pockets. These brands can pay premium prices for priority production. They can work directly with manufacturers in other countries. And they can beat out the smaller competitors at every turn.

But, it is not impossible. New, fledgling clothing brands are popping up everywhere. In fact, the appeal of pop-up shops is gaining a lot of appeal while department stores and brick-and-mortar shopping malls are closing up shop. So there are small niches of opportunity; you just have to know where to look.

Suppose you are looking for a clothing manufacturer in another country, partner with a broker who can find you the right opportunities to fit your needs. Consider your target audience, brand values, and ultimately your budget when evaluating suppliers

Where to find clothing manufacturers:

  • Industry Meetups
  • Directories
  • Search Engines
  • Social Media Groups
  • Brokers

What to look for in a clothing manufacturer:

  • Price
  • Quality
  • Production Times
  • Shipping Times
  • Experience
pair of tennis shoes


Alternatives to Sourcing Clothing Manufacturers

Many brands prefer to work with clothing manufacturers to produce garments designed for their brand. This model is how they can ensure high-quality products that fit in their stores and that will be popular with their customers. However, that is not the only method of sourcing clothing. If your business model is flexible, you can consider these alternatives.

Wholesale Clothing

Purchasing bulk lots of post-production clothing garments can yield significant cost-savings. Plus, you won’t have to deal with finding patterns or materials or going through the process of setting up production projects with manufacturers. However, you will need to have ample physical space to deal with storing and handling the inventory.

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If you do not have warehouse space, another alternative is dropshipping. In a drop-ship model, you set a project up with a clothing manufacturer, but they do not produce the item until your customer orders it. Once an order is placed, production begins and the garment ships straight to your customer. 

The Takeaway

There is more than one way to approach manufacturing and supply distribution for your clothing line. You can have as much or as little control over the process as you would like. You can look for low minimum order quantities and on-demand production or drop shipping arrangements that dial down to a per-piece production cycle. 

In the world of e-commerce, clothing brands are rethinking the way that they source products. With Pond Threads, you can move away from overseas manufacturing and long lead times. Our lean, on-demand and sustainable approach can provide the latest trends when you need them. Contact us today to learn more.